Saturday, March 15, 2008

Protecting Native Sacred Places in southwestern Colorado

Last year Nick Standing Bear and Becky Donlan formed the Colorado non-profit organization, Native American Research and Preservation, Inc. This was the result of having done volunteer work for the past three years and seeing the need for more intensive efforts to save our Native American sites as well as to educate the public regarding the Resource Protection Laws. During the course of site monitoring, we have found many stone structures in South Park and the San Luis Valley. At the encouragement of Ken Frye (Cherokee/Choctaw archaeologist and board member) we developed a powerpoint presentation called Sacred Stones. In it, we stress what these sites mean from the Indian standpoint. We hope by this kind of education people will have a newfound respect for the sites. We gladly give this presentation free of charge to any interested group. No site locations are ever revealed. These sacred, spiritual sites are being vandalized and destroyed every day. More law enforcement through monitoring needs to be done. And the laws need stricter fines and penalties. When these areas are gone, they are gone forever. An essential and important part of our history will be here no longer. We have had the opportunity to turn in several vandalism cases. We have also contacted the D.A.'s office in Durango regarding a vandalism case near Cortez. However, the judgments handed down have been very lax. The judges need education about the importance of these areas and need to seriously reconsider the fines and sentences. The people we have worked with on these cases have been wonderfully helpful, but more help is needed. We need more trained site monitors. We need the funds to pay them. We need more archaeologists. We need the funds to pay them also. The areas the archaeologists and the law enforcement officials cover are huge. There is no way they can be all over these places all the time. They desperately need help. The vandals know this and take full advantage. We need funds to pay for educational materials regarding the laws. We have designed our own brochures to hand out at presentations. We work closely with the State Archaeology Office, the State Land Board, the Smithsonian and recently with NEARA (New England Antiquities Research Association). We hope that by combining forces we will have strength in numbers to protect sites and to bring pressure on legislation to help.
Thank you,
Nick Standing Bear and Becky Donlan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad to say Nick Standing Bear crossed over to the other side on June 13, 2008.. We will miss him greatly . Becky will continue this much needed work . tanka chante